Now that winter is upon us and there is too much snow on the track to race, it's time to plop in front of the TV and get caught up on some DVD watching.
For our featured DVD this month, Best Motoring International teamed up with Japanese performance magazine Hot Version to bring us "Tuner Battle Royale". This 90-minute DVD is filled with high-quality footage and exclusive interviews with famous Japanese racers.
First stop is Japan's famous Tsukuba track for the Hot Version Festival 2005. Aside from Festival footage, the real action takes place on the track with the Tsukuba Circuit Battle featuring N/A versus turbo vehicles. Representing for the all-motor team is a bad-ass CWest S2000 that handles like a kart, J's Racing S2000-one of the top tuners for S2Ks, Route KS Zero Force NSX with an all carbon fiber body that weighs less than Lindsay Lohan, and finally, Re Amemiya 3-rotor FD piloted by Drift King Tsuchiya. Rolling up to the line for the turbo team is a Yashio Factory S15 whose pastime is chasing GT-Rs off the track, Hosaka Tuning Factory R33 GT-R, an HKS R34 Driving Performance with a variable valve timing system, touge monster MCR34 GT-R, and Mine's 600-hp R34 GT-R. It almost seemed like an S2000 versus Skyline battle. All the vehicles were aiming to beat the one-minute mark during qualifying. So not to spoil the outcome of the battle, what we will say is how obvious it is that N/A cars just can't keep up on the straightaway. Plus we all know how lovely a turbo spooling sounds.
Next up at Tsukuba is a drifting exhibition. What is cool about this DVD is that they identify the names of each type of drift. Who knew there was a cross-line drift, slalom drift, and jump rope drifting?
We remain at the Tsukuba circuit for the AE86 N2 Championship 2005. A fleet of Toyota Corollas hit the track including the vehicles of: Drift King Tsuchiya's by TRD, Sugibayashi Powers, Spirits DL Project Mu, Kito Kito Sprinter, Tec-Art Trueno, BRIG Cool Max CP Levin, kms woodvillage, kms Isono, Ishii Powers, CBY Trueno, Car Factory AI, Koshimizu Motors, Annex Mu Advan, and Kaneko Powers. Highlights of the race include seeing how Drift King responds when things don't go as planned, watching Tec-Art's sequential gearbox in action on the track, the stylistic debate of whether or not to sport a GT wing, and the good ol' underdog private owners taking their hachi roku's up against shop-sponsored cars.
Our favorite feature of this DVD was the Touge Showdown 300, Round 3 on Japan's Gunma 1.5 km downhill. Three pro drivers, Keiichi Tsuchiya (GT500 driver), Manabu Orido (GT500 driver), and Taniguchi-san (GT300 driver), evaluate and compete with a series of vehicles limited to 300 hp on the touge. Did we mention model Kozumi Kondo is in this feature? The car to beat was the Amuse S2000 F20C. With 260 hp; front engine, rear drive layout; double wishbone front and rear; and upgraded rear suspension from an '04 model, it is a touge monster. The competing cars were a Circuit Club Integra Type-R DC5, BROS Accord Euro-R (our Acura TSX), Route KS S2000, Fujita Engineering RX-8, Yashio Factory 180SX FR turbo, and San AI Works FC. After the drivers took the vehicles out for a run and gave their impressions the battle began Initial D style-tail-to-bumper start, the front car wins if the lead is spread, rear car wins if the gap is decreased. Out of that competitive group you'll have to watch the DVD to see who took home the trophy.
We then skip over to Japan's Suzuka circuit for the final round of the 2004 JGTC and to catch up with drivers Manabu Orido, Tsuchiya (Team Advan Supra) and Juichi Wakisaka (Toyota Team Le Mans). Titled "Life in the Fast Lane," the two drivers discuss their quest for victory in the JGTC and all of the ups and downs along the way. JGTC is the highest form of motorsports in Japan, as evidenced by the 40,000 fans that showed up for the event. While we found the interviews a little dry, we drooled over Orido's Advan Porsche. Wanna trade me for my Celica? The highlight was Orido's humbleness when he said that his racing career is a dream come true for an ex-street racer like him.
Afterward we see some good footage of the race as predominantly Supras and NSXs throw elbows on the track. A Best Motoring video is not complete without out Tsuchiya-san in every feature, so as acting Team Director for ARTA (because he is no longer a competitive racer?), we see him giving his drivers strategies and directions for the race.
Last but not least, this DVD features the Ultimate Battle FR versus AWD. This was sadly a weak battle sequence for Best Motoring, which is quite out of step for them. Orido takes his 600-hp Eclipse Ridox Supra up against Tsuchiya in a Yumekobo FD35 and Wakisaka drives the Auto Produce Boss Lancer EVO VIII MR. By running only three cars it limits the action, but mostly this is a disappointing race because there is heavy rain which obviously favors AWD. Thus we don't have a real comparative analysis and with such bad conditions they called off the race. And this makes the final cut onto the DVD?! I know they had already rented the track and lost money, but c'mon! We deserve better. Maybe that is why they titled it "Bonus Battle".
Aside from the last battle featured, this was another quality DVD from Best Motoring. Good footage and narration, an inside peek into Japan's best vehicles, and plenty of racing action will keep everyone entertained. While we respect legends, we may however start yawning if we continue to see Orido and Tsuchiya in every Best Motoring DVD to come. Until then, they are the best import DVD series on the market.
For more information check out: www.bestmotoringvideo.com